BYU eliminated from WCC tournament with 3-1 loss to Gonzaga; NCAA at-large bid now appears unlikely

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU's Danny Gelalich, shown here in a game vs. Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, had a pair of hits in the Cougars' 3-1 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, May 24, 2019 in the WCC tournament.

BYU’s nationally ranked baseball team picked a horrible time to run out of offensive firepower.

The Cougars’ bats fell silent for the second straight day and they were eliminated from the West Coast Conference tournament on Friday, falling 3-1 to Gonzaga at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.

Having lost 4-1 to Loyola Marymount on Thursday to drop into the one-loss bracket, the Cougars could muster only three hits off GU pitchers Mac Lardner and Alek Jacob and dropped to 36-17 overall.

Now they await Monday’s NCAA Selection show to see if they will get an at-large berth to a regional, but prospects are dim. BYU’s RPI was in the low 30s two weeks ago and the Cougars appeared destined for the Big Dance, but three-late season losses dropped their RPI into the 40s and will likely cost them dearly come Monday.

At the WCC tournament, the Cougars struck out 19 times, had just eight hits and scored just two runs in 18 innings. BYU’s pitching, which carried it most of the season, did a reasonable job as Easton Walker (7-2) allowed just six hits and three earned runs in six innings of work and reliever Reid McLaughlin pitched two scoreless innings.

But the offense went lacking, just like Thursday when LMU ace Codie Paiva held BYU to five hits in a complete-game performance.

Brock Hale drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Danny Gelalich, who led off with a double, in the first inning and it appeared the Cougars had rediscovered their offense. But they got only two hits in the remaining eight innings of a game that lasted a little more than two hours.

Two years ago, BYU dropped its WCC tournament opener to LMU before reeling off four straight wins to get the league’s automatic bid to the NCAAs, but there was no such magic this time around as the No. 1-seeded Cougars struck out out eight times and stranded four against the No. 2-seeded Zags.